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In speech, Obama will pledge to explore Russian initiative on Syria

U.S. President Barack Obama walks between meetings on Syria with U.S. Senate Republicans and Democrats, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Septe
U.S. President Barack Obama walks between meetings on Syria with U.S. Senate Republicans and Democrats, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Septe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will pledge to explore a Russian diplomatic initiative for Syria in a speech to be delivered on Tuesday night, an administration official said.

Obama, in a 9 p.m. EDT/0100 GMT White House speech, will express skepticism about the Russian proposal to put Syria's chemical weapons under international control but will seek to see if it is for real, the official said.

The stakes are high for Obama, who also will try to persuade war-weary Americans that any U.S. military action contemplated by his administration against Syria would be limited in scope and duration.

Obama will explain to Americans why it is in U.S. national security interests for Syria to face consequences for an August 21 chemical weapons attack that U.S. officials say killed 1,429 people.

Obama and his national security advisers say to do nothing in response to the poison gas onslaught would risk emboldening U.S. enemies to try to gain access to chemical weapons and use them against American targets.

(Reporting By Steve Holland, Jeff Mason and Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Bill Trott)

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